January 10th – WRC Review
Workplace Relations Commission Publish Latest Review of Decisions and Recommendations
Michelle McDonagh, Senior HR Client Relationship Consultant, Adare Human Resource Management

In December 2021, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) published its report that examined complaints made to it from 1st January to 31st December 2020. In that time a total of 1,401 cases covering 3,059 complaints were the subject of published decisions.

A total of 8,103 cases were received by the WRC, covering 18,969 complaints. However, not all reached the adjudication stage as some were settled, withdrawn, referred for mediation or were pending or adjourned. Therefore, the report refers only to those cases that had final decisions published during 2020.

Breakdown of complaints
In terms of the complaints received by the WRC, 577 were made under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1977. In second place, 454 complaints were made under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 followed by 354 complaints made under the Industrial Relations Act 1969.

Of the 3,059 specific complaints made, 227 were withdrawn. Therefore, 2,832 were adjudicated upon during the year. 1,237 of these were successful while the remainder, 1,595, were unsuccessful giving a success rate (for the complainant) of 43.68% (excluding withdrawn complaints).

One interesting finding in the report relates to those complainants who had third party representation. The report highlights that just over half (51%) complainants self-represented at their hearing while 41.6% had representation. For respondents, 52% had third-party representation at their hearing. Of these, 145 respondents had external HR representation.

Awards made to complainants
In 2020, a total of €5,152,152 was awarded by the WRC to complainants with an overall average award of €5,117. For 181 complaints, a non-financial award was made, which means a course of action was the recommendation.
The highest average award made was €19,753 and was made under the Employment Equality Act 1998. This was followed by the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 at €16,220.

The single highest award made, under the Employment Equality Act, was €117,814 and concerned a complaint made about gender discrimination. The next highest award was made under the Unfair Dismissals Act and was for €104,000.

Considerations
This is the first of its kind report by the WRC that closely examines the complaints from 2020 and contains some interesting information for Employers. Specifically, the average awards made under specific Acts, giving some indication of how the WRC adjudicates on certain matters, particularly if an Employer finds themselves in the WRC. Also interesting is the representation breakdown with the majority of complainants representing themselves in the WRC.

Our advice to any Chamber member who may find themselves invited to the WRC is to seek out the appropriate expert advice at the earliest possible time. Preparation is key as is the right advice and guidance. The Adare Human Resource Management team is available at any time to provide the support required, including drafting submissions, engaging with trade unions, solicitors, the WRC and Labour Court, overseeing and managing the entire process.

Adare Human Resource Management is a team of expert-led Employment Law, Industrial Relations and best practice Human Resource Management consultants. For more information go to www.adarehrm.ie, email adarechambers@adarehrm.ie or call (01) 561 3594.